Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Sasank Gopinathan ("SG") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

SG : I studied Product Design with a degree from Curtin University, Perth. I’ve been doing occasional freelance work for 10 years and have been working as a full-time product designer in companies for over 7 years now.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

SG : I have always been drawing and doodling since I was a kid. In a way, I never grew up, and I’ve always wanted to integrate my love of drawing and creating to a professional career. When I learnt that being a designer could be a profession, I never looked back.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

SG : I was never forced to become a designer. Growing up in a household of music and being involved in art at a young age, I feel choosing to be a designer was more of a natural inclination.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

SG : I tend to design products, mostly furniture and a couple of consumer goods and electronics, as well as cars and transportation. I have also dabbled in iconography and typography. I do wish to design more cars and transportation related products.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

SG : Practice makes perfect. Keep being curious, be open to new perspectives, and look for inspiration outside your field as well as within.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

SG : I think when your work emanates your personality rather than data, focus groups and cues only from other designs… That makes you a great designer

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

SG : A good design is something that doesn’t need a spokesperson. It speaks for itself, and it can convince you of its use with minimal to no explanation.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

SG : I believe that a society that invests in good design evolves faster. In this regard the value of good design is the power to change, to evolve, to improve, to educate, and to utilize with more ease.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

SG : I am most comfortable with designing consumer products and vehicles, and if I had time, I’d work with any client, small or large, as long as their ideas are great and they need my help to realize their vision.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

SG : I aim to create an international design language with Indian heritage and roots, probably starting with the region where I come from: Kerala. I hope to eventually nail it with a diverse range of applications.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

SG : Rest. Sometimes when striving for an idea, you can overwork yourself and any time spent working after that is a waste. If my brain is fried, I take my mind off from my work and rest for the day/night. The next day you will have a fresher mind and you tend to have better solutions and ideas.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

SG : In the field of automotive design, I’m greatly inspired by Marcello Gandini and Giorgetto Giugiaro. In architecture, I’m inspired by Bjarke Ingels. In product design, I'm inspired by Oki Sato & team (Nendo). In graphic design, I’m inspired by Christoph Niemann.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

SG : I love the Stratos Zero concept by Marcello Gandini, as the design was so radical it still looks futuristic after 50 years. Christoph Niemann’s ‘household item’ instagram posts challenge my perspective on how I view everyday items, which blows my mind.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

SG : If people want to improve their overall skill sets, it all comes down to regular practice. If people want to improve their creativity, they should start looking around, watching videos related to creating ideas, and even read books that can broaden your imagination. Watching improvisational comedy, creative speakers and Youtube Videos spark inspiration within me.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

SG : If I hadn’t studied design, I would have probably gone to pursue sound engineering and music production.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

SG : If engineering is the brain, design is the heart. A co-existence is the perfect balance. A product/design with all brain and no heart, or a product with all heart and no brain, will be either useless or unsuccessful.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

SG : My family, and my friends from school & college come first. My next biggest supporters are the friends I met on online design communities, who helped me develop my skills with constructive criticism.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

SG : Practicing my skills as regularly as possible, and constantly making sure my mind doesn’t stay idle. I make sure I’m either creating something, or learning/discovering something. My brain constantly craves for knowledge or action.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

SG : I think most of my obstacles were from within: procrastination and distraction. Avoiding both these qualities can help you accelerate your progress in anything.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

SG : It would be best to present their work with minimum words regarding a basic description of the brief, concept and purpose. Basic descriptions of the brief, concept and purpose. The rest should be spoken by the design itself.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

SG : My ultimate goal is to leave a legacy. My legacy needs to be either a product/design that changed people’s everyday lives, or create a movement that evolves the field of design.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

SG : Design is like subliminal education, which can subtly embed perspectives in people. When exposed to good design, people would realize the value of design when it is absent, especially in society. For example, this can be clearly seen when people who live in cities with well designed train maps get lost when travelling in cities with badly designed train maps.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

SG : I’ve been working on icons of Indian Architecture, a fun project I’m doing for myself. I have become more and more absorbed in the project as I’ve continued my research. I’m thinking of creating a book that can showcase the cultural and regional diversity of Indian architecture throughout the millennia.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

SG : Design projects that have a long term positive environmental impact, or promote green or sustainable design, give me the most satisfaction. I feel that making an impact in design should also benefit the environment in some way.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

SG : I would like to see the design industry approach nations where it is still undeveloped or in its nascent stage. People will only embrace design if they’re educated about it, and the only way for a lot of people to know about design is if the design industry goes to them. More exposure on design and design methods should democratize the field and bring more ideas to the table.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

SG : I think the design field is headed into a more environmentally sustainable direction, and if it isn’t, it should. As the population and resultant consumption increases, we need to ensure that our consumption doesn’t come at the cost of destroying our environment, at least for the sake of maintaining comfortable living standards. There would be no point in consumption if the world is deteriorating, and that would start a negative feedback loop.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

SG : Depending on the project it can range from a month to two years.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

SG : I start with research on the subject matter, especially if it is a topic which I have no experience in. Doing as much research as possible will provide a better understanding of the objectives that need to be met for the project, and how to achieve them.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

SG : Stay a little crazy and never grow up.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

SG : I think there’s a mix of both. Revolutionary designs set trends, while evolutionary or catch-up designs follow trends.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

SG : My use of technology is mixed, but I usually begin with hand sketches before I start using my computer. My first connection to technology would be using my Wacom to do digital sketches or beautify my hand sketches. Eventually, if 3D design is required, I use my CAD software to make my models. I also make 3D prints when required, and to organize my presentation panels as well.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

SG : I use Solidworks for my CAD, and Keyshot for renders. For 2D-related design I use Photoshop, Illustrator and SketchbookPro. In terms of equipment, I have my pens+pencils, my wacom, and my 3D printer.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

SG : A product without colour, materials and ambience in design is like a bowl of white rice without the curry and side dishes. Also, the meal is only perfect when the curries and side dishes complement each other. So a good design should find that right combination of colours and materials that complement each other.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

SG : A great design or product is something that alters my way of thinking. I’ve suddenly been opened to a new perspective, and I’m able to see new applications or new meanings.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

SG : Co-design is successful when partners have matching wavelengths of thought. That’s when the optimum resonance is achieved. An ideal design partner for me is a person who shares a similar wavelength of thought and thought process as me, so we can jive together, no matter our personal differences.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

SG : My meeting with designers at a workshop hosted by ex-BMW designer Chris Bangle was very crucial for me to change and improve my method of sketching and presentation. Other people include my close friends who are also designers, and my peers from online design communities.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

SG : Practice, learning by imitating and deconstructing other styles, allowing myself to be inspired in any possible way and not just by design.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

SG : I would love to have a chat with Marcello Gandini or Giorgetto Giugiaro, as they are true legends and I feel that saying them having a huge impact on car design and design as a whole would be an understatement.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

SG : I love the colour orange. Any place where I feel at peace, is my favourite place, and Malaysian & Indian cuisine are my preferred choice of cuisine.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

SG : My day is made if I discover something I’ve never seen before, or come across a piece of music I’ve never heard before, as it makes me gain new perspectives. I motivate myself with good music.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

SG : When I was young I used to draw all the time and I never stopped as I grew older. I figured if I get good at something I love, I could make a living out of it, and eventually earn a name for myself. So maybe it wasn’t glaringly obvious when I was a child, but I guess the writing was on the wall.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

SG : In a thousand years from now, if we all haven’t decided to kill each other in wars or die from diseases, I think we would have pushed new realms and discovered new dimensions. If we went from farmers and sailors to astronauts in a thousand years, anything is possible!



Dhyan Chaise Lounge Concept

Dhyan Chaise Lounge Concept by Sasank Gopinathan

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